File photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff Red Deer Rebels Evan Polei sported a solid playoff beard last season and expects to grow one again this year. Here the forward is pictured fighting with Lethbridge Hurricane Igor Merezhko from earlier this season. The Rebels and Hurricanes will meet in the opening round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

From peach fuzz to Yeti: breaking down the Red Deer Rebels playoff beard chances

It’s been only a few days since the Red Deer Rebels earned a spot in the post season

It’s been only a few days since the Red Deer Rebels earned a spot in the post season, but playoff beards have been on the mind of one player for a while.

The longing goes back almost a year for Rebels alternate captain Evan Polei, who had a lumberjack-like look last season on the road to the Memorial Cup and he’s more than ready to bring it back.

“I’d grow a beard all year if I could… I definitely look a lot more scary on the ice with one than when I shave,” said Polei, whose scruff is already in the works with a week to go before puck drop against Lethbridge on March 25.

Playoff beards have long been a tradition in hockey. Some say it goes back to the New York Islanders of the 80s, while the modern fan can’t help but recognize the new tradition of expert, full season beards from players like Joe Thornton and Brent Burns.

For teenagers in major junior hockey, not many enjoy the luxury of Polei’s Wolverine-ish ability to grow a beard, but the simple joy of the experience is shared even among the facial-hair challenged.

Include Rebels winger Dawson Martin in the “wish he could grow a better beard” camp.

“I love it. I think it’s cool because in this sport you’re expected to look professional and clean cut often. So it’s fun in playoffs you can let yourself go a little bit, like a wildebeest.

“I can’t get away with it,” Martin added about his attempt to get in on the beard growing. “I’ll do my best but I don’t have a lot of facial hair, don’t think I ever will.”

While most players fall in that camp with Martin, the facial hair power rankings in the Rebels locker room are pretty clear.

“Probably Bobyk,” Martin suggested about who other than Polei could join the time-honoured playoff tradition.

“Those two are probably the most man-child out of everybody.”

While two Rebels veterans in Polei and Bobyk pulled away at the top, both Martin and 20-year-old Austin Glover speculated Matthew Campese might wear the look well.

“There might be some young guys who can grow one,” Glover said.

“Freadrich might be able to grow a decent one. Campese obviously, he can grow a mean beard I think. He’s got the shadow after shaving in the morning.”

Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt has been around the game for a long time, so long that he cited a Maine Mariners teammate as one of the best beard hockey beard he’s ever seen.

“Guys that I’ve coached before, Shea Weber had a pretty good one years ago,” Truitt recalled.

“I don’t think it’s ever come off. I played with a guy by the name of Barry Dean with the Maine Mariners way back when. He had a full beard going in a couple of days. You couldn’t even see his chin strap.”

As appreciative as Truitt was of some of the great beards he’s seen, he carried a kind word of caution for those who enjoy the tradition yet might be better off not participating.

“I’ve seen a few good ones but I’ve seen a lot of bad ones,” Truitt said, emphasizing a lot. “There are a lot more bad ones than good. People try, but people don’t succeed an awful lot at this age.”

In the 25-year history of the Rebels, it’s really only been the last two seasons players have been given the O.K. to grow facial hair for the playoffs.

But this season, whether the Rebels choose to heed the sage advice of their experienced coach or not, come March 29 at the Centrium, game three of the first round with the Lethbridge there may be a few more mountain men skating for the club.

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month